VALPARAISO | An attorney for Pines Village Retirement Communities argued Tuesday the site should be able to retain its charitable tax-exempt status.

Attorney Todd Leeth said the Valparaiso site, which includes the Meridian Woods Homes condominium development, is a not-for-profit corporation that promotes civil and charitable work on behalf of seniors.

Leeth cited case law before the Porter County Tax Assessment Board of Appeals that he argued upholds the Pines tax exemption. One of the cases involved a successful legal battle waged by Wittenberg Village, in Crown Point, to hold on to its exemption.

The Pines facility is among 22 property owners being called in by Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder and the PTABOA to defend tax exemptions after recent state rulings.

Snyder said six or seven such inquiries have already been held with about half able to hang on to exemptions.

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The PTABOA took the Pines case under consideration.

Cherylene Brennecke, residential life director at Pines Village, said the corporation has an endowment to offer residents assistance if they run out of funds.

When PTABOA President Nick Sommer asked about the level of subsidies, Brennecke said five of 160 residents in 2014 received help for a total of $54,000.

She also told Snyder that rents are at or less than the local market.

Brennecke said services that go above and beyond the fees paid by residents include social, educational and fitness programs, as well as transportation.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.